Romania holds its breath today as two of its major football teams, Steaua and Rapid, will face each other in the first leg of the UEFA Cup quarterfinals tonight. The event brings mass coverage in today’s newspapers, while a political scandal, US-Romanian relations and the President risking to lose his job under in lustration face-off also claim a good share of editorial content.
The lead in previews for the Rapid-Steaua match in Bucharest this evening belongs to sports newspapers. According to Gazeta Sporturilor, Steaua players had to be escorted by the fearsome bodyguards of the owner of the club, Gigi Becali, to the official training on the Rapid stadium as dozens of Rapid fans welcomed them with curses and threats.
The risk of a confrontation between fans on the margins of the match has lead to extreme security measures anyway: a whole road will be closed for five and a half hours tonight, according to the online newspaper Onlinesport.ro.
The boiling sensation among fans is explained by a France Presse preview to the first leg of the UEFA Cup quarterfinals, in which the French news agency believes Rapid-Steaua is the most important and "electrifying" of the European matches.
And pressure is expected to rise today as another newspaper, Sport Total, announced a key player for Steaua, Portuguese goalkeeper Carlos, might not be able to join the match as he suffered an injury during training.
That, however, is not the only confrontation to disturb the quiet lives of Romanians. A conflict between the two senior members of the governing coalition, the Liberals (PNL) and the Democrats (PD) gives no sign it would end any time soon.
According to Cotidianul, frictions between PD and PNL over a Democratic decision to support a separate nominee for the top job in an institution studying the archives of ex-dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s secret police, the Securitate, may split the governing D.A. Alliance with the Liberals for good.
The first protocols of collaboration at local level between the two parties have already broken with PD leaving the partnership with the Liberals in the region of Bihor, according to a Gandul report.
And when Ziua claims the naming of a separate nominee to lead the Securitate studies was plotted by President Basescu with PD head Emil Boc, Evenimentul Zilei considers the whole affair is sending the Democrats back where they came from.
That is, to their standards of the early post-Communist eighties, when they were part of the National Salvation Front along the leaders of what would become the now-in-opposition Social Democratic Party.
Gandul notes that the President himself might lose his job if another issue related to the Communist past follows the worst case scenario.
Two Senate commissions approved a draft law on lustration yesterday. The law, which is due to be debated in the Senate today, would ban people who belonged to the leadership of the former Communist structures from holding public office positions.
And the law included sea captains among the groups that fall under the incidence of lustration. President Basescu was the captain of a ship for much of his career before entering politics in the nineties.
Another newspaper, Cotidianul, continues a series of reports on the margins of a visit by Foreign minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu to Washington.
It says the US will send Romania a list of conditions to be met if the country wishes US visas to be lifted in the case of Romanians – a sort of "roadmap" only applied to Romania and Greece these days.
But the waiting period before the visas are lifted will be of at least three years, the newspaper says.